Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine (CDM) received a $1 million gift from the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) to fund scholarships and carry on WREB’s legacy of helping students.

The gift will fund a perpetual endowment that will provide partial scholarships for two third-year and two fourth-year CDM students from one of nine pioneering WREB states.

“We have always been impressed and thankful for CDM’s commitment to WREB, and the students as well. The relationship we have between WREB and WesternU has always been phenomenal,” said Dr. Rob Lauf, President of WREB. “We want to make a difference as best we can in dental students’ lives to help ease the financial burden of their dental education.”

“On behalf of the entire WesternU family, I am delighted to express our deepest gratitude to WREB for this generous gift to our CDM students,” said Dr. Sylvia Manning, Interim President of WesternU. “This kind of support helps us make a difference in the quality of health care for our communities.”

The Commission on Dental Competency Assessment and the Western Regional Examining Board, the two leading dental competency assessment organizations in the United States, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on June 15, 2021 outlining their intention to combine into one organization to further serve the oral health professions. The new entity will be known as CDCA-WREB. Together, the merged entity will administer the ADEX exams which are accepted in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico as the basis for initial licensure for dentists and dental hygienists. The existing Boards of Directors of CDCA and WREB will combine to provide governance oversight to the combined entity with equal representation from both Boards.

With the upcoming merger, the WREB Board of Directors wanted to honor the legacy of WREB providing licensing exams in the western United States. The board considered schools that have been especially supportive in many ways, said WREB CEO Beth Cole. WREB identified WesternU and Texas A&M College of Dentistry as the recipients of gifts to create endowed scholarships to support dental students and dental hygiene students.

College of Dental Medicine Dean Steven Friedrichsen’s relationship with Beth Cole and key WREB leaders extends back to his time working at Idaho State University and Creighton University Medical Center School of Dentistry. CDM faculty, including Assistant Professor Mark Mintline, DDS, Associate Dean for Patient Care and Clinical Education Brent Fung, DDS, Professor Alexander Lee, DMD, Associate Dean for Integration of Technology, Curriculum and Learning Environments Hubert Chan, DDS, and Assistant Professor Joori Kim Cho, DMD, have served on WREB committees and the Dental Exam Review Board, and have field tested many exam innovations that WREB subsequently implemented. Dean Friedrichsen credits the WesternU faculty and staff with deepening the productive relationship between WREB and the College.

“It has been both enjoyable and productive to work collaboratively with Beth, the other dental professionals and the WREB team for more than three decades,” Dr. Friedrichsen said. “I was personally speechless when Beth informed me of WREB’s plans to select the College of Dental Medicine to be one of the dental schools entrusted to ensure their legacy. We look forward to honoring WREB’s trust in the College by creating a living legacy of service through the quality graduates who will be selected for the scholarships.”

Dr. David Low is widely considered the father of WREB. Along with high academic standards, students who receive the CDM scholarship will embody Dr. Low’s characteristics: professionalism, innovation, compassion, and approaching work with a sense of humor, Cole said.

“We’re just really excited about the opportunity to have a legacy, and to make a substantial difference in the ability of students to achieve their desire to become a dentist,” Cole said.

From left, College of Dental Medicine Associate Dean for Integration of Technology, Curriculum and Learning Environments Hubert Chan, DDS, Associate Dean for Patient Care and Clinical Education Brent Fung, DDS, Dean Steven Friedrichsen, DDS, Assistant Professor Joori Kim Cho, DMD, Assistant Professor Mark Mintline, DDS, and Professor Alexander Lee, DMD, pose in the Dental Simulation Lab where students get hands-on experience. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)